One of the things that has been big news in this presidential election cycle is the number of big newspapers across the country endorsing one candidate or another. In this cycle the biggest news has been made by longtime Republican-leaning newspapers like the Arizona Republic crossing the political aisle to endorse Hillary Clinton.
And while it certainly wouldn’t make news anywhere if a smaller newspaper like Lagniappe endorsed a particular presidential candidate, we are often asked if we’ll endorse candidates for local or state offices in particular. We never do, though.
When Ashley Trice and I started Lagniappe we both agreed the idea of the newspaper formally endorsing a particular candidate made little journalistic sense. Maybe a lot of that was born of us being such a small operation that attempting to act as if there was some vast separation between our “editorial board” and the rest of the staff seemed absurd. It’s kind of like solo bloggers who always refer to themselves as “we.”
But moreso to us, the idea of a newspaper editorial board endorsing a candidate — essentially telling its readers that’s who they should vote for — runs counter to the ideal of a newspaper being a place where you call it like it is. After all, if a paper endorses a candidate, wouldn’t it create some pressure to see that candidate do well so the editorial board doesn’t look dumb? It seemed that way to us.
Our opinion writers are welcome to express their thoughts on any election, but those are an individual’s opinions. When it comes to news coverage, we strive to just get it right, without anyone’s politics or political leanings affecting our reporting of the facts.
Wilson and Media 101
This political season has produced a few folks new to the world of public office and as such there are typically some rough spots when it comes to learning how to deal with the media.
Fairhope Mayor-elect Karin Wilson demonstrated that earlier this week when she got unreasonably self-protective when one of our reporters asked for an interview about the mayor’s thoughts on her salary and issues of how the city’s utilities board will be run. Wilson claimed she hadn’t liked the way some other reporters had handled her so she demanded all questions be submitted prior to the interview and wanted the right to review the story before it ran. She also told our reporter no tape recording of their conversation would be allowed.
Here’s Media 101, Mayor Wilson: Reporters aren’t going to submit questions to you ahead of time, nor are you going to be able to review their stories before they are published or aired. That’s just not done in the business. As for recording, if you’re someone worried about being misquoted, having the interview recorded is a great way of making sure it’s totally accurate. Record it yourself, too, if you wish.
Talking to media is part of holding political office and reporters have a job to do too.